Elbow // Jesca Hoop // Live Review // The Waterfront Hall // Belfast
The Belfast Waterfront Hall tonight plays host to one of the UK’s finest and most revered indie rock bands Elbow who return to Belfast post pandemic and like so many bands delayed by the continuous drama that Covid imposed, but now all behind us, we find ourselves living life to the full and in the company of friends, the finest of friends in Elbow and Jesca Hoop, the latter being an American singer songwriter looking to wrinkle her own brand of magic to this music thirsty crowd.
Whilst the rest of the UK burns in beautiful weather. We here in Northern Ireland find ourselves under a muggy grey sky, warm sticky weather that doesn’t know what it’s doing and the break from that and a trip to capture some stellar musicians in one of Northern Ireland’s most beautiful venues The Waterfront Hall.
A sold-out show in the middle of one of the busiest times on the local music scene with Belsonic in full swing, venues across Belfast crammed with gig goers, tonight is no different as Jesca Hoop takes to the stage, The Belfast crowd gives her a warm welcome as she and a single band member open up with the most beautiful vocal harmonies, right then and right there you know you are in for something pretty special. Jesca’s new album Order Of Romance is due out later this year and will be a welcome addition to her devoted fan base. Her beautiful melodies fill the auditorium as if plucked from a dream, and the charming vocal harmonies radiate throughout and capture the imagination as her lyrics flow effortlessly out over the audience. A short but sweet set makes its mark on the Belfast crowd and anyone who was lucky enough to witness it for themselves will know just how remarkable her musicianship is first-hand.
Now for something completely different, Peter Alexander Jonson is this evening’s musical interlude. Peter and his electronic piano take to the stage for a short interlude and storytelling session with a gent who must be the most amazing dinner companion. Songwriting with Audrey Hepburn and beyond his ability to connect with the room was remarkable and his delicate melodies and dark storytelling and of course his charm and personality that allows him the Avila out to so comfortably sit and chat with an auditorium full of people as if he was in his living room at home. A first for me at a live show, but we kinda knew an Elbow show would be a unique experience!
9 pm on the dot and the lights drop once again, a crashing boom and the strobe lights flicker to announce the arrival of the band as Elbow kicks into their set and The Waterfront Hall erupts. A long time coming for their devoted fans and a breath of fresh air for many after a tough few years but tonight is all about the live experience once again with one of Britain’s finest atmospheric rock bands.The guys and dolls open with Dexter & Sinister which immediately grabs your attention and lifts you up out of your head space and right into the moment along with the band, ‘Flyboy / Lunette’ follows and reminds you of the musicality and range that only Elbow can bring to a live show. A humbling experience as you witness the band turns on a dime to bring a whole new vibe to the room and remind you of their musical prowess. Coming off the back of their appearance at the Queen’s Jubilee, Elbow are an English treasure, there is an ethereal quality to them, like pushing your hands into the soil and feeling that connection with the earth, Elbows’ music connects on another level, bringing an almost spiritual connection to this band. You can see it in the audience here this evening, the room is filled with such a wide variety of people, in age range and as diverse as I have seen in a while, but they are all glued to what is happening up on that stage, couples embraced arms wrapped around each other swaying to the music as the guys throw out their music comfort blanket across the room.
A set packed with melancholy numbers that allow you to get totally lost in the moment, brought to life in bigger and better ways live for you to absorb every nuance that Elbow brings to the stage versions of their fan favourites, no doubt as with any live show there will be this out there who feel their own personal favourites don’t get the time they deserve, but when you have released nine studio albums, the options vast and the musical landscape you can create on the road is long and winding one.
Thankfully Belfast finally got to enjoy it all first-hand and it was glorious.